Esperanza Spalding

Congratulations To Esperanza Spalding & The Decemberists!

It’s been an interesting, triumphant, and breathtaking year for HUSH alumnus:

On January 26th The Decemberists reached #1 on the venerable Billboard 200 Album Chart with The King Is Dead (as well as several other number ones in other chart categories).

Last night Esperanza Spalding, who released her first recordings for HUSH as a member of the trio Noise For Pretend (within a month of The Decemberists debut of the same year), was voted by 13,000 peers in the Recording Industry to win The Best New Artist Grammy.

If in 2002 you would have told me that the acts I ‘signed’ would go on to top the Billboard charts and win a prestigious Grammy within ten years do you suppose I would have believed you?

I dug up these photos (remember digital camera technology was still far from mainstream… let alone the iTunes store did not yet exist) so the quality is atrocious, but they are vestigal proof that these musicians started by playing half-empty rooms to their friends.

It’s really inspiring.  These are talented, hard-working, beautiful people and I’m honored to have played a really, very small part in their path to success.

-Chad Crouch.

Catching up with Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza, former lead vocalist and stand up bassist for HUSH recording artist Noise For Pretend is cropping up again in the media. This time we find the The New Yorker lavishing an in-depth profile on the now 25 year old sensation.  You’ll need to pick up the mag, or have a digital subscription to read that, but the website has a nice podcast to accompany the article:

Esperanza on The New Yorker Audio Podcast

Recently, Esperanza performed some amazing, seemingly frenetic renditions of jazz standards in studio on NPR affiliate Jazz24. Listen here.

The author also provided some candid behind-the-scenes video of Spalding’s songwriting process and work on a forthcoming album:

When I visited her home in Austin, Texas, I asked if I could shoot some video of her explaining how a song gets written and arranged. She happily obliged me by talking about the creation of an as-yet-untitled song:

Spalding plans to record this song but not for her next album, “The Chamber Music Society,” which is due out this summer. But I went out to Bennett Recording Studios, in Englewood, N.J., and watched her conduct a string section for a song that will be. It’s called “Apple Blossom”:

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding at Jazz Sous les Pommiers 2008
© Yann Renoult

In 2002 HUSH had the distinct honor of releasing a compelling album by a young trio called Noise for Pretend entitled Happy You Near. At the center was 17 year-old Esperanza Spalding on double bass and vocals. Her pop ensemble lived a short lifespan of little more than a year, owing to her full scholarship offer in Boston. Six years later she’s a graduate (poster child, and youngest faculty member ever) of Berklee College of Music, she’s played stages around the world with jazz giants, and just yesterday she released her second solo record, titled simply Esperanza. It appears that the buzz in the jazz world is spilling over: Esperanza was recently featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and the cover of Bass Player Magazine to name a few. On June 4th she’ll play David Letterman’s Late Show with her trio. It’s likely just the beginning. Congratulations Esperanza!

Happy You Near Sampler Mix

Visit her screen-engulfing website here.